Beware the fake reviews!

January 28th, 2018

No, we're not mimicking Donald Trump!

Sometimes, an honest person just has to protest and call out advertising disguised as information for exactly what it is: fake.

In this case, our gaze turns to a basic Internet search for advice on comparing and selecting software products.

In the early years of the Internet, various publications supported extensive honest review sites. You could find current articles reviewing the 10 best programs for this or that purpose. Today, listings titled "5 Best X" and "10 Best that" are seemingly taking over search results. But, click through to one of the results and what you'll discover is a bevy of "sponsored" write-ups.

Case in point, here at PCPC, we recently did an exhaustive search for software that can compare photo image files and help you delete duplicates. We looked for sites from our old stalwarts, such as and PCMagazine, where one might expect to find solid, vetted reviews of image duplication software.

We also did an open ended search on Google. Many of the results were themselves sites hosted by software publishers offering short descriptions of some programs followed by an in-depth sales pitch stating the "superior benefits" of their own program.

Even Capterra, a major software comparison site, returned zero listings for image de-duplication software.

Within our Google search, we found ourselves scrolling past many sponsored results to the organic results, only to find a variety of YouTube reviewers who had merely walked through the programs for their commentary.

Serious reviews, which could be defined as evaluating a program against vetted standards, were either totally lacking, or failing to appear in search. The most striking example was that Consumer Reports didn't come up anywhere in our results list!

You might ask, "How many results were produced?" The answer is more than 3,000 results were listed by Google. We scanned through page after page of listings filled with a widely confused set of sites; school sites, publishers, governments, etc.

We didn't stop there.

Going directly to CNet, now owned by CBS, was a nightmare of full-color ads sponsoring all sorts of programs, not the targeted photo de-duplication.

Even going directly to the sites of reputable print media, such as PC Magazine, led to aging report commentary with only two programs discussed, and the article was from 2015. As noted, Capterra was a dead end for this category. Regardless of specifying photo duplication, or photo de-duplication, the results only returned photo management software listings.

We visited a result from, a well-written blog by a young engineering student in Pune, India. He listed five programs, but did not provide much in the way of insights to differentiate the products. He deserves credit for the effort. It takes lots of work to collect clues about several serious programs, go to their sites, download trial versions, and test the programs.

Our search saga is yet another reason why our clients prefer we suffer the frustrations of the tech industry in their stead.

At PCPC, our team's knowledge comes from day-to-day experience in the field, over the course of decades.

What's that old adage? "If you want something done right, do it yourself." Hey, maybe you'll find some PCPC vetted comparison reports posted here in the future!